A Maryland state Senator has introduced legislation he said would counter local schools' "zero tolerance" policies regarding mimicking of firearms.
WJZ-TV reported on Friday that state Sen. J.B. Jennings (R) would prohibit school administrators from suspending students for making their food or fingers into the shape of a gun, or for drawing guns on paper without discussing the matter with parents first. Students would also be sent to a counselors' office before suspension is considered.
"If it's done in a violent manner, then yes, we can take it to the next level," Jennings said. "We can look at suspension."
The bill is headed to the state Senate Education Committee for deliberation. If approved there, it would head to the Senate for a vote.
"Zero tolerance" policies led to the suspensions of 7-year-old Joshua Welch on March 1 for shaping a pastry into a gun, and 6-year-old Rodney Lynch in December 2012 for pointing his fingers like a gun. Rodney's suspension was subsequently lifted.
Jennings said he has received calls from parents worried over the effects of school officials' own quick trigger fingers.
"The parents are the ones who have had concerns saying 'okay, now my kid has to carry this,' Jennings said. "So when they get into middle school and [officials] start placing them in classes, they're going to look and say, 'Well wait a minute. This kid has been suspended when he was in second grade.' And he's always going to be looked at as, 'What did he do?'"
Watch WJZ's report on Jennings' proposal, aired Friday, below.
["Pirate girl in shirt and hat on a white background" via Shutterstock]